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Why Vision?

Blindness and poor eyesight affect 85 million people across all countries in the Commonwealth.

Much progress has been achieved in the last decades in bringing vision to people across the Commonwealth.

But much more can be done.

It's estimated that the global cost of vision loss is over

$3 trillion per year

This includes

$168 billion in lost productivity alone

It is estimated that for every

$1 invested

in children's eyesight, more than

$150 is returned

over the lifetime of the child

good vision

releases the potential of individuals

to learn, to work

and to lead fulfilled and

productive lives

As the Commonwealth's population increases and ages, the number of people

blind and with poor vision is set to triple by 2050

The Challenge

The challenge is to bring affordable, quality eye care to everyone, so that no one need suffer from blindness or poor eyesight when it can be prevented or corrected.

Simple, inexpensive, tried and tested solutions exist to prevent or treat many types of blindness and poor eyesight. Improved and innovative solutions are constantly being developed, right across the Commonwealth.

Tackling Avoidable blindness and poor eyesight will transform the lives of millions of citizens across the Commonwealth, creating a better future for all Commonwealth citizens.


In April 2018 the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2018) took place in the United Kingdom to address global challenges.

At the meeting all 53 Commonwealth nations pledged their commitment to take action towards achieving access to quality eye care for all. The full communique can be read here. Progress will be reported upon every two years at future meetings.

We look forward to working with Commonwealth governments to bring vision to everyone, everywhere.




Cataracts are responsible for over half of all blindness globally. Cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye, leading to blurred vision and eventual blindness. Even though cataract surgery is considered one of the most cost-effective interventions in the world, nearly 18 million people are blind because of cataracts

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults. Over half of all people with diabetes do not know they have it, and by the time their vision deteriorates it is often too late for treatment. Poor control of blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and high lipid levels in the blood damage the blood vessels in the retina. Early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow up can reduce the risk of severe vision loss by 95%.

Refractive Error

Refractive error

Uncorrected refractive error is the leading cause of visual impairment world-wide. Refractive errors happen when the eye doesn’t refract (bend) light accurately so vision is blurred. 1.3 billion people suffer needlessly from poor vision, when many could be able to see with just a simple pair of glasses.



Onchocerciasis, otherwise known as River Blindness, is the second most common infectious cause of blindness in the world, after trachoma. It is a parasitic infection that can generate a strong immune response, and lead to damage to structures in the eye, causing irreversible vision loss. The parasite is spread by the bite of infected black flies that breed in fast-flowing rivers. Over 37 million people are infected with the disease - 99% of them in sub-Saharan Africa. It can be treated with medication to help stop the spread of infection.

Blinding Trachoma

Blinding Trachoma

Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness globally. It has been eliminated in nearly every high-income country in the world, yet it still remains a public health problem in 42 countries. It is caused by a bacterial infection spread from person to person or by eye-seeking flies. Repeated infection results in scar tissue forming within the eyelid, turning the eyelashes inwards so that, with every blink, they scrape the surface of the eye, which without treatment causes irreversible blindness. The disease can be avoided through environmental improvements in water and sanitation, antibiotics to treat the infection and surgery to correct in-turned eye lashes.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of prematurity

Retinopathy of prematurity is a major cause of blindness in children in low- and middle-income countries. Premature babies are often given oxygen in incubators to help them survive, but over-administration of oxygen can be highly toxic to the blood vessels, including those in the retina, which can cause irreversible blindness. Early screening, detection and treatment and the careful control of oxygen in the incubator can prevent needless blindness.

Who We Are

Vision for the Commonwealth was launched by a group of six leading eye health organisations, charities and campaign groups - The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Sightsavers, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Peek Vision, Clearly and the International Coalition for the Trachoma Control - who have joined efforts to end avoidable blindness and poor vision across the Commonwealth.

Vision for the Commonwealth is supported by the following organisations:

Connect with us

The Commonwealth can lead the world in ending avoidable blindness and poor vision. To support our vision for the Commonwealth:

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